Scandal? What Scandal?

Enron Too Complicated for Some

Eichenwald has a history of corporate boosterism. In 2000, he came out with a popular book called The Informant that downplayed price-fixing at agricultural giant Archer Daniels Midland while demonizing the whistleblower who helped make the case. So it's no surprise that he's all over the latest scandal. On January 13, he landed on the front page of the Times with a sweeping overview of the rise and fall of Enron. The story read like a book proposal, and it glossed over Condor and Raptor while heaping blame on Arthur Andersen. The last line quoted a former Enron employee, who said, "It's beginning to sound like a John Grisham novel."

As others have noted, blaming the accountants is a central part of Enron's defense strategy. And it seems to be working, deflecting some of the attention from the predatory actions of Kenneth Lay. Consider this bit from the Times's lead editorial on January 14: "Enron may have been deceitful in recent years, using off-the-books partnerships to exaggerate revenues and hide debt," the editorial read. "It was Arthur Andersen, however, that signed off on the . . . company's deceptive financial reports."

There are many appropriate responses to this scandal, but apologizing for Kenny Boy isn't one of them. I'm with The New York Observer's Michael Thomas, who says the officers of Enron "should be stripped of their insider stock profits and go to jail."

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